Through My Kitchen Window – All Things Coconut

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A coconut isn’t all that versatile. Right? Coconut milk is good in piña coladas and curries. Shredded coconut is for coconut cake and occasionally granola. And that’s about it.

I’ve had ½ a bag of shredded coconut in my cupboard for over a year. We’re just don’t eat that much coconut. If I put it in cookies, my husband turns up his nose. I don’t blame him. It’s dry, chewy, and a bit like eating plastic.

A few months ago, as I was surfing my usual array of food blogs an article on coconut flour caught my eye. What?! Coconut flour? As I read on, a whole new coconutty world opened before my eyes. Did you know the humble coconut is processed into coconut flour, shredded coconut, coconut flakes, coconut chips, coconut milk, coconut oil, and cream of coconut? Amazing!

Coconut flour is useful for baking and cooking. The raw flour has a wonderful coconut aroma, but doesn’t taste coconutty when cooked. It can be used in place of wheat flour in any recipe, but the flour to liquid ratios will need to be adjusted. Coconut flour is a much “thirstier” flour and requires more liquid. I suggest using recipes created specifically for coconut flour until you become comfortable with it.

Shredded coconut, coconut flakes and coconut chips are delicious when simply dried and not heavily processed. Look for them without added sugar, sulfites (whitening agent), or preservatives. Use shredded coconut for baking, coconut flakes as a topping or garnish, and coconut chips for snacking.

Coconut milk is best homemade. Canned coconut milk has preservatives and stabilizers such as soy lecithin and guar gum added to keep the milk and oils from separating and spoiling. See the recipe below to make your own. It’s super simple.

Coconut oil is amazing. It’s a great substitute for butter in any recipe, used for stir-frying, or eaten by the spoonful for its healthy medium chain fatty acids. When refrigerated or at room temp it’s a solid but melts quickly when heated. Coconut oil is also a great moisturizer. After using it to grease a cake pan, rub the extra into your hands. No need to wash it off!

Coconut cream concentrate is made from ground coconut meat. Put it on bread in place of butter or nut butters, mix a few teaspoons with water to make coconut water, or add it to coffee as a creamer.

The website www.freecoconutrecipes.com is an excellent website full of recipes using all the coconut products listed above. I prefer to buy my coconut products from www.TropicalTraditions.com. Keep an eye out for their free shipping specials and giveaways on Facebook.

Homemade Coconut Milk

Put two cups of shredded coconut or coconut flakes in a bowl. Pour in 2 ½ cups boiling water. When the mixture has cooled to room temp, knead and squeeze the coconut for about 5 minutes. Scoop it into a mesh bag or thin tea towel and squeeze out the milk. Dry the remaining coconut in a dehydrator and grind to make coconut flour.

If you have a powerful blender such as a Vitamix, let it do the kneading/squeezing for you: Place 2 cups coconut and 3 cups boiling water in a blender, and blend for 1 minute. When cool, scoop into a bag and squeeze out the milk.

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